Saturday 18 April 2015

Books ... Borrow or Buy?

I recently signed on to the world of Twitter.  Please note that I did so under duress, but much to my own surprise find it enjoyable.  I have shied away from on-line social networking because of a real-life stalking episode that left a sour taste in my mouth.  That episode happened in the days before social networking, but was frightening enough to have me constantly err on the side of caution.

As with many new ventures I decided to give it a “test-drive” first.  Although I am still extremely dubious about the amount of personal information some people feel inclined to share, I did come to see the interest in those 140-character blurbs.

I discovered a whole community of book lovers, authors and publishers with whom one can interact.  Not to mention contests … I actually scored a gift card and two free e-books in December.  Now this was getting better and better!

Recently an author I “follow” tweeted the following statement (paraphrased), “The one thing an author hates to hear at a book signing is the phrase … I am on the wait list for your book at the library”. 


As a self-confessed book-a-holic and an advocate for literacy this statement gave me pause.  Why does this author not like people to get her books from the library?  Royalties?  Volume and numbers?  Being in a sales based business I can certainly understand that.  I am not sure, but I think there is some sort of tracking system for library “borrows” with regards to royalties and readership?  If not, maybe there should be.

I read a lot … for me 2010 closed with 100+ books.  That number consisted of purchased books, library books, books borrowed from fellow readers, audio books and a couple of e-books.  I have several favorite authors, whose books I always purchase to keep my personal library up to date.  I love the bargain books in my local bookstore and have found many hidden gems in that particular section.  I do patronize second hand books stores, attend local book fairs and author events when time allows.  Other than that, the library is my destination of choice for three simple reasons.  My first two are basic: money and space.  I could not possibly afford to purchase all the books I read and, most definitely do not have room in my small house to shelve them all.  The third, convenience.  I can request books on-line, often finding them as e-books or audio books, in which case it does not even entail a trip to the library, just the push of a button.  Or, I can request the book on-line. The nice librarian will call me when the book is in, wrap the book in a little piece of paper with my name on it and place it lovingly on a convenient shelf.  Then I can throw my car in park, rush in like a dervish, grab the book and be done.  (I like to think I help keep her employed with my constant requests; thereby stimulating my local economy and lowering the unemployment rate).

So yes, much to the chagrin of the tweeting author, I do use my local library.

But, in my defense, and possibly to help alleviate her agonizing despair of all things library, I would like to add the following.  Ask any of my friends … if I enjoyed a book I just read everyone gets to hear about it.  (Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City sales should have doubled after I finished raving about it)  And, if I really enjoyed it, even though mine may have been a library borrow, chances are someone on my gift list for the year will receive that book wrapped in pretty paper and a bow.  I also belong to two on-line books sites and  Being a constant reader I am, by default, a constant reviewer.  I post all my reads and reviews to these sites.  Judging by the amount of “likes” and “comments” my reviews receive I can only assume that people are reading them.  That’s quite a bit of free promo and advertising if you ask me. 

No, no, really, no need the thank me.  Glad to help!

So, to that un-named author on Twitter I say, if there is a wait list for your books at the library, take it as a compliment.  If I were an author I would be more concerned if there was no interest in my book at all!

Originally posted on 01/08/2011

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